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Viral Load Definition

Here's a taste of what has to offer on this topic:
Get the Facts
The Well Project

Women and HIV Viral Load

Table of Contents What Is a Viral Load? How Are Viral Load Results Used? When Should You Be Tested? Women and Viral Load Areas of Future Viral Load Research What Is a Viral Load? HIV attacks immune system cells called CD4 cells. HIV enters these cells and turns them into virusfactories that produce thousands of copies of HIV. As the virus grows, itdamages or kills CD4 cells, weakening your immune system. Viral load is the...
Ask the Experts


Thanks for your comments and information about the possibility that people with undetectable viral might be able to infect HIV negative people and contribute to HIV superinfection, but is there any research revealing the actual numbers of such...
Robert J. Frascino, M.D.

Response from Robert J. Frascino, M.D.

The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation
Hi,No, we do not have reliable information as to how often this phenomenon occurs. As you can probably imagine it is quite challenging to conclusively prove that a particular strain of HIV was transmitted to an already infected individual. This... Read more »

Viral load during ARS

Which viral load test, if any, would be most accurate/reliable/definitive for detecting the virus during ARS pre-seroconversion? Thanks......
Mark Holodniy, M.D., F.A.C.P., C.I.C.

Response from Mark Holodniy, M.D., F.A.C.P., C.I.C.

Stanford University, School of Medicine
There are no comparative studies to answer that question.... Read more »


Dr. Would a standard viral load test (<400 copies) be definitive proof of non-infection or would I need to get an ultra-sensitive test along with the antibody test to be sure? Can an undetectable standard VL rule out infection? Thank You....
Mark Holodniy, M.D., F.A.C.P., C.I.C.

Response from Mark Holodniy, M.D., F.A.C.P., C.I.C.

Stanford University, School of Medicine
The standard testing algorithm is still to test with serial antibody tests up to 6 months after exposure. During acute infection (within the first few weeks after exposure),viral loads are very high (10,000- >1,000,000). Thus lower sensitivity... Read more »

Re: Definition of a blip

Regarding the new studies you just mentioned,what would you do in my case?On first treatment of Sustiva/Combivir for 2 years. I have had 4 small "blips" in that time, the last one being 150, the one before that was 86. For the whole year...
Susan Little, M.D.

Response from Susan Little, M.D.

University of California San Diego
I would wait and follow your viral load and CD4 closely - I think there is now good data to suggest that low level (i.e. less than 200 copies) rebounds in viral load are frequent and usually transient in fully adherent patients. I see no reason to... Read more »
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A definite answer PLEASE!!

Posted by Anonymous, 1 Reply
I am antibody negative as of 20 1/2 weeks since my exposure. I still experience several symptoms and can't understand what is going on with my body. I finally had my doctor to order a more extensive test, but I think he ordered the wrong one. It... Read more »

PCR "definitive?" HELP

Posted by Anonymous, 1 Reply
After a "what was I thinking" unsafe encounter, I really stressed out. Sure enough, within three weeks, my groin nodes were inflamed. My doctor said, "No problem." Over the next two weeks, I began to get a discharge from my genitals, inflamed... Read more »

Definite Symptoms But Still Negative. Why?

Posted by Anonymous, 4 Replies
Hi Folks!

I'm wondering if somebody could shed some light on my problem...About 2 years ago I had unprotected sex with a prostitute (20 intercourse sessions or more). About 2 weeks later I developed an ARS like illness that disappeared after 1 week.... Read more »

Viral Load Testing.

Posted by sunkyst, 3 Replies
I went to see a doctor today who does internal medicine and is also a HIV specialist. I told him about all of the HIV tests I've had done over the past few weeks i.e several tests where I tested negative and the last one at just over 11 weeks where... Read more »